1569 c/o Ryan Vance

It could be you

Two oversized cakes sit before the great west gate of St Paul’s Cathedral, which is very much in disrepair. Cracked windows quake under a strong wind, ivy has claimed the entire north face, and the spire still wants repairing. This is only understandable; the Protestants’ll be damned if they’re to foot the bill for Catholic misdemeanours, and the Catholics, well – God wouldn’t have struck it with lightning if he hadn’t wanted it damaged in the first place now, would he? Only one of the two cakes looks to be getting into the spirit of things, sporting as it does a ragged hole from which, four hours earlier, Mary Queen of Scots emerged.

A courtier approaches the other cake. It has been a January day in which the night never abdicated to begin with. While Schrödinger is yet to be born, the principle is largely similar except for the fact that England would not tear itself apart for the sake of a dead cat in a box. The courtier is nervous.

“Do you imagine,” says the cake, sensing his arrival, “things might have been different if, on the scrolls, we had drawn more than simply the silver?”

And then: “It would have been no trouble at all to pose for the royal illustrators, although Mary might have taken some convincing…”

And then still: “Oh, do check on her also, will you?”

Every ticket a winner, every man returning home with bronze or gold, a cup or plate, books or finery, jewellery or delicacy, legal immunity for a day, a week’s loan of a boat, a month rent-free, shares in the royal stock. All to raise funds to restore the realm. Some bought their tickets alone while others pitched in as a group and presumably fought over how to evenly distribute a single gemmed chalice.

FOR TWO LUCKY WINNERS, cry advertisements pasted in shop windows up and down London, EVEN MORE!!!!!!!

Not that it matters now, the crowd long dispersed, but one cannot guess which fate Elizabeth, shivering and bored, may have preferred, a collective effort or one lone proposal.

She quickly understands why the courtier does not check on Mary.

“That Scottish bitch,” says the cake.